THE PENTAGON —
An armed Russian fighter jet came within just a few meters of a U.S. military plane flying over the Baltic Sea, an official told VOA Tuesday.
The Pentagon said the American plane, an RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft, was unprofessionally "intercepted" in international airspace on Monday by a Russian SU-27 Flanker fighter jet.
"Due to the high rate of closure speed and poor control of the aircraft during the intercept, this interaction was determined to be unsafe," Defense Department spokeswoman Army Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza told VOA Tuesday.
She added that the action had the potential to cause serious harm and injury to all air crews involved.
Pentagon officials stressed that the American reconnaissance plane "did nothing to provoke" the Russian jet's behavior.
"The Russian military is within its right to exercise within international airspace, but they must respect international standards set to ensure safety and prevent accidents," Baldanza said.
Close encounters take place on a regular basis among military aircraft operating in international areas. The vast majority of encounters with American military planes are conducted in a safe manner, officials said.